Deborah Boydston Deborah Boydston
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I love the line "The velvety texture of their petals tickled her finger tips".

Jennifer Killby Jennifer Killby
Recommendations: 6

Thank you. I appreciate that.

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Jennifer Killby Jennifer Killby
Recommendations: 6

The Legend of the Traveler's: Willow Journey Chapter 4


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The Legend of The Travelers: Willow's Journey
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Under the Double Star -Chapter Two

Willow stretched and yawned. Flinging her legs over the edge of the bed, she planted her feet on the icy floor. A shattering chill ran through them. She wrapped the comforter around her as she slid off the bed and scampered over to the dresser. Pulling open the drawer, she rummaged through it, tugged some clothing out, and dressed herself before the cool air sent shivers through her body.
  
She looked around the room. What should I do now? Sadness brewed in her stomach like a thick stew. She tried to envision her mother. Not one memory. Nothing. Is this what it feels like to lose someone? But what have I lost? I don’t remember anything about her.
      
Noticing the fairy figurine on the nightstand, she leaned over, picked it up, and examined the ornate details. “What’s going on with you? Who keeps moving you?” Willow marveled at its life-like appearance. You’re it. You’re all I have. She tried to smile, but couldn’t bring herself to feel any happiness. The little statue connected her to the missing piece she wanted back in her life. Willow placed the fragile piece back on the dresser. She couldn’t bear if anything ever happened to it.


She approached the French door, opened it, and walked out onto the balcony. A black wrought iron railing surrounded the terrace, still wet with the morning dew. Long shadows cascaded across the lawn, reaching the barn and pasture. The horses grazed and Aengus tinkered with something by the barn. A path cut right through the woods behind the timber building. The path invited her. Yes, she’d take a walk.


A memory crept its way into her consciousness. She squeezed the railing as the scene played out in her mind. A yellow sea of dandelions roiled and pitched with the caress of the wind. Herself, much younger, jumped and danced with the dainty flowers. As she walked, her hands passed over their soft faces. The velvety texture of their petals tickled her finger tips. She searched for something. She smiled when a crown of red hair peeped over the gentle yellow waves. 2 comments


“I see you,” Willow shouted. She picked up her gait, her small legs going as fast as they could. She slowed her pace and crept to where she thought her mother hid. She pounced like a playful kitten to see only the crushed weeds where someone once rested. A tinge of disappointment flowed through her. Where did she go? Willow glanced around.


“Here I am.” Her mother’s soft voice carried with the breeze.


Willow listened and searched the meadow with her eyes. “Where are you?”


Willow bent over, plucked a dandelion from the ground, and twirled it between her fingers. She lifted the flower to her nose and breathed in. A soft push on her back reminded her that her horse had come to play too.


“Hey boy. Did you see Momma?”


The stallion shook his head and neighed.


“Maybe, if I get on your back, you could help me.” She twisted her mouth into a pucker and smiled.


The animal backed up and neighed.


Willow shrugged. “That would be cheating, wouldn’t it?”


The horse turned and galloped to the shade of a willow tree. The crown of red hair surfaced again with a slight giggle.


“I see you.” Willow laughed as she ran to the spot.


“You can’t catch me.” Willow watched her mother run through the meadow, her laughter filling the air.


“Slow down!” Willow shouted as she took off after her.


She blinked a few times before the memory had faded. A wave of sadness settled in the pit of her stomach when she realized she would have to face the world. Somehow, deep down, she had to find the strength. When she turned, she winced at her reflection in the door’s glass. She didn’t recognize the face staring back at her. Lifting a hand, she traced her right cheek from nose to jaw line with her fingers. Three raised scars disfigured her face. She lowered her eyes as she dropped her hand to her side. How much worse could it get? Who could have done this to me?


Back in the bedroom, she grabbed a sweater, and slipped out into the hallway. The house was silent. Willow followed the dimly lit hallway to the kitchen stairwell. A sweet smell wafted into her nose and she hurried down the stairs into the kitchen.


Caer worked in a frenzied rush baking muffins. Bowls of blueberries, pans, and cooling muffins laid scattered around the room. Willow saw her slip a piece into her mouth as she pulled a pan from the wood burning stove. Caer smiled and shrugged when she realized Willow caught her. The intoxicating smell of fresh baked muffins drew Willow closer. She gripped the back of one of the chairs at the kitchen table. Willow still felt unsure of this place and those around her.


“Good morning.” Caer placed a plate of muffins on the table. “Would you like one? They’re blueberry. I’m quite proud of them. It took me years, it seems a couple hundred, to find the perfect recipe.” She smiled. “These should be cool enough.” She handed one to Willow.
Willow took it. “Thank you.”


“You’re welcome.” Caer wiped her hands on her gingham dress. “You seem to be doing well since you have wakened. The herbs and salves Fighting Bear gave seem to have worked. I’m amazed at how you’re getting around.”


“Who’s Fighting Bear?”


“He’s a friend and a Shaman. He lives down the way some. You will meet him soon.” Caer smiled. “What are you about to do?”


Willow picked at the warm muffin with her fingers. “Maybe take a walk.” She stopped nibbling. A memory flashed through her mind. Caer and her argued in the kitchen. Then Willow ran outside. She tightened her brow and gazed at Caer. When did that happen?


“Is something wrong?” Caer asked.


“I don’t know.” The memory flooded her mind again.


Caer placed her hand under Willow’s chin and lifted it. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
Willow nodded.


Caer’s face saddened and her eyes grew distant as if she knew Willow’s thoughts. “The path that leads through the woods starts behind the wood pile. It winds back to the house. So don’t worry about getting lost. Oh, please be careful. Whoever did this to you is still out there.”


“Oh . . . yeah, right. I didn’t think about that.” Willow gazed past Caer at the kitchen door. Uneasiness tightened her stomach. “Do you think I should even go?”


Caer peered at the kitchen door and took a breath. Ryuu is out there somewhere. I’m sure you’ll be fine. I believe a walk will do you good. You’ve been in that bed since the attack.” She glanced around, as if she lost something, hurried to a wood china cabinet, and rummaged through the drawers. She turned to Willow and extended her hand. “Here, this should protect you.” She held a chain with some kind of emblem as a pendant. Gold in the form of ivy wrapped around the blue medallion. “This is a protection stone. It will let off a blue glow as a warning if anything comes around that wants to cause you harm.”


Willow leaned closer to the stone. Her reflection bounced around a thousand times in the saphire. “It’s beautiful. Do I need to do anything for it to work?”


“All you have to do is wear it. Lift your hair so I can put it on.” Caer placed the necklace around Willow’s neck. “Now, you’re covered.” She smiled and picked the piece up in her hand. “Your mother wore this the first time she traveled.”


“Thank you,” Willow said. She glimpsed down at the stone, the size of a large coin. It seemed bulky and heavy around her neck. “I’ll be careful.” She pressed it hard against her skin, hoping to feel something from her mother, anything.


“You’re welcome.”


Willow hesitated before she moved toward the door. She grabbed the brass handle and opened the door. A cool blast of air rushed past her. When she emerged, the morning dew dampened her shoes. She lifted her face to the clear blue sky and the sun warmed it. Aengus worked on one of the fence posts to the pasture. He waved at her and she threw her hand in the air to return the gesture. The horses stood near him and watched like curious children. As Willow approached, the horses spooked and ran to the other side, except one. A solid white horse with a long flowing mane and tail stood alert, proud and strong. The horse whinnied and danced, pawing the ground with its hooves. Billows of dust rose into the air.


Aengus straightened himself. “Hello.”


“Hi, she’s beautiful.” Willow leaned on the fence rail.


“He’s beautiful.” Aengus smiled.


Her face flushed with heat. “Oh, I’m sorry.”


He chuckled and put his hammer down. “Don’t worry. He’s yours, you know.”


“What? Really? I don’t remember him.”


Turning to the pasture, he held out his hand. “Eidolon, come here.” Aengus rubbed the animal’s neck as the horse bowed his head. “Look who’s here.” Aengus scratched behind the horse’s ears.


The stallion bobbed his head up and down. Willow followed Aengus’ lead and reached up to pat the steed. The horse moved closer and nudged her hand. His nose was soft against her skin. For a moment, she forgot the sadness.


“He has missed you.”  


Willow reached up and smiled. A sense of familiarity assured her that everything was as if it should be. Eidolon neighed and bounced his head. Aengus rested his hands on her shoulders.


“Willow . . . are you there?”


“Hmm . . . I’m fine.” She placed her hand on the back of her neck. “I guess I better go for my walk.”


Aengus pointed behind her. “The path is over there.” He scrunched his brow. “Are you sure you’re fine?”


“Yes. Thanks.”


“Okay,” he smiled. “I’ll see you in a bit.”


“Bye.”


Shadows covered most of the backyard and the house seemed to tower high above the ground from behind. The front, landscaped with shrubbery, vines, and many bright colorful flowers, was almost dwarfed by the vegetation. She caught a glimpse of the trail and headed down a small embankment into the dense woods. The path, worn and hard from heavy use, muffled her footsteps.


As she walked, she tripped occasionally on a bare root or stone. Large trees rose high above her and obscured the view of the sky. The foliage ranged in colors from soft reds to bright yellows and deep greens. Silence washed through the area as she moved further along the path. Willow’s thoughts began to wander. She tried to pull another memory of her mother, to catch a single glimpse of her even if it were a mere shadow. The memory of her and Caer arguing flooded her thoughts. Why were we arguing? What happened? She grasped the pendant in a hand, lost in a world that she didn’t even remember.


Thwap!


A rock bounced off her shoulder and tumbled to the ground. Willow spun around. Ryuu stood a few yards behind her.


“What’s your problem?”


Ryuu ignored her question and kept walking.


She followed him. “Did you hear me? Why’d you throw that rock at me?”


He continued, as she quickened her pace to keep up.


“I was enjoying myself until you came.”


Ryuu halted. “No . . . you weren’t.”


Willow almost collided into him. He spun around to face her and took a deep breath. Willow sensed that she had done something horrible, but couldn’t recall what. As he glared at her, his face distorted, twisting into something different, unnatural and then back to normal. He moved his eyes down to the ground then back up at Willow. Her heart raced and she took a step back, unsure of what she saw.


“What just happened?” She narrowed her eyes. “Your face . . . something happened.”


He shook his head, jerked around, and continued. “Why are you out here, alone?”


“You’re not going to answer me, great. Ignore me, then.” She watched him turn a corner and couldn’t tell if she was hurt or angry. Deciding she was angry, she ran after him. “Hey, I didn’t know I needed a bodyguard.”


Ryuu refused to acknowledge her.


He stopped at an opening in the woods as she caught up. She strained to see through the fog’s thick wall and stepped forward, curious. It grew denser the longer they remained. Ryuu flung his arm across her chest. Willow grabbed it and pushed it away. Her first instinct was to swing her fist at his face, but unclenched her hand and dropped it to her side.  Grimacing, he turned away as if nothing happened. She took another step out of pure defiance. He grabbed her and pulled her back. His tight grip left marks on her arm. He pointed into the meadow. Willow squinted, but couldn’t see anything.


“What?”


“Open your eyes.” He lowered his voice and knelt. Willow leaned beside him and followed his gaze into the thick mist. Several dark figures moved about.


Her chest tightened and her hands trembled. “What are they?”


Ryuu leered at her. “Lost souls.”


She felt unwelcomed. “Why are they here?”


“I don’t know. Something brought them here.” He peered at Willow then out to the meadow. “Maybe you.”


“How? I didn’t do that.”


“This fog and those shadows were not here before your attack, only after.”


As they sat there for a few minutes, a gnawing feeling grappled with her thoughts. She glanced at him every few seconds. He seemed more than familiar, a strange pull toward him. He scooted away from her when she brushed against his arm. She peered back into the fog, tired of waiting. One of the shadows came closer, faster than she could react. It reached out and snatched her hand. A cool sensation pulsated into her body. The shadowy tendril released her and left a mark where it had gripped her.


She drew her arm close to her body. “Did you see that?”


“See what?” He tightened his brow. “What are you harping about now?”


“Something grabbed my arm.” She thrust it under his nose. “It left a mark.”


Ryuu pushed it out of his face. “There’s nothing wrong with you.” The corner of his mouth lifted as he pointed to the necklace. “Plus your stone didn’t light up. No danger, just overreaction.”


“You’d be a little over reactive if you were attacked too.”


“I guess.”


She peeked down at her hand. No mark. Nothing. Confusion clouded her thoughts. Maybe it didn’t happen. She glanced back at the fog. No shadows. They were gone. Willow rose to her feet and dusted her clothes off. “You can sit there all you want. I’m moving away from this crazy stuff.”


Ryuu shook his head and turned back to the soupy wall.  


She picked up a stick and doodled in the dirt. Strange. I wonder what happened. Every part of this place made her feel small, insignificant. Tears welled in her eyes and a scream climbed her throat. She swallowed hard.


“You remember something?” he asked, a tint of fear in his voice.


“What are you talking about?”


He pointed at the ground. “That!”


Willow glanced at the drawing, a circle with a serpentine line going through the middle. “I don’t know. I just drew it.”


“It’s your family’s symbol.”


“My family’s symbol?” She hesitated. “What does it mean?”


“You’re a traveler. You family can move through time. All they need to do is think of a place and they go.” He shook his head with annoyance. “It has been your family’s duty to search for the Four Jewels. Since you’re the last in the line, it will now be your duty.”


“What? We can move through time, like go to the past and see people that lived a long time ago?”


“You could go back to yesterday if you wanted.” He peered deep into her eyes and turned away.


She lowered her gaze. “I don’t remember any of this.” Willow grabbed his shoulder and tried to pull him around, but only met with resistance. “I can go back and find out who attacked me? Is that where my mother is, somewhere in time?”


Ryuu took a deep breath and leaned his weight to one leg. “All I know is it means your life is in danger. There are people who will try to get you to use your powers for evil.”


Something familiar in Ryuu’s eyes tugged on her and he pulled her close. He leaned closer and brushed her face gently with his fingers. His lips caressed hers as his arm wrapped around her waist, slowly pulling her closer. As she became aware of his touch, he pulled his hand away. She grazed her face with a hand, feeling the hardened scars under her fingers and lowered her head from embarrassment. She wanted to disappear. No one will ever want me. I’m a monster.


“I thought you hated me.”


“I don’t hate you. That’s the problem. I should hate you.” He narrowed his eyes.


“What have I done for you to want to hate me?”


“It’s not important.”


“Were we close before the attack? Did we love each other? Tell me something. I want to know.”


“Whatever happened before the attack is not important right now. If you remember it, forget it.”


“Oh, I see.” She pondered the drawing. “I’ll probably never find out what happened.” She took a deep breath and resigned to the fact she had lost her memory. “I guess I’ll go back to the house.”


Ryuu turned away from her.


Feeling uneasy, she needed to say something, anything. “I thought this path went back to the house.”


“It does,” Ryuu said. “Turn around and go back.”


Willow spun around on her heel toward the house and took a couple steps when a sudden crashing sound frightened her. When she whirled around, Ryuu was gone. She ran to the path’s edge. He was just here. Where did he go?  


“It never ceases to amaze me.” Aengus said from behind her.


Willow placed her hand on her chest and took a deep breath as she tried to slow the adrenaline rush Aengus’s presence gave her. Confused, she glanced at him. How did you get here so quickly without me noticing?


“The meadow.” He pointed behind her. “Caer sent me out to find you.”  


“Ryuu was here a moment ago,” Willow said.


“He’ll find his own way home.” He started toward the house.


She ran after him. “Why is the fog so dense?”


“That would be a question to ask the fog.” Aengus smiled. “Ahh, I see Ryuu coming now.
Let’s go back to the house.”


Ryuu emerged from the dense mist with his head down and his hands fisted. Aengus, a couple paces ahead, continued without them. She decided to start back before Ryuu got any closer. I honestly think he hates me. What did I do to him? Grabbing a small twig, she tapped it on the trees as she walked. Ryuu snatched the stick out of her hand and broke it, flinging the pieces to the ground. Willow scowled and flung her arm to hit him. He raised both of his hands in defense, ready for her flagrant attack. They both stared at one another, briefly. She lowered her arm, as he remained still. She felt uncomfortable, like the enemy.


“What is your problem?” she asked.


Ryuu remained silent. She waved him off and turned to leave.


He snatched her arm and flung her around. “I want to know why you’re still here? You should have been gone. I thought . . .”


“You know why I’m here and you thought what?” Willow tried to pull from his grip.


“I saw what you did. You made a deal with Fea and I saw you do it.” His eyes glared.


“What are you talking about? Who’s Fea?”


He released his grip.


“I’ll get the proof and when I do, you won’t be welcome here any longer.” He pushed past her, turned around, and pointed at her. “It’s just a matter of time before they realize what you are.”


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